Council ‘minded to approve’ new homes for Thurston

The locations of sites for a proposed 827 homes in Thurston
Map: Google Earth
The locations of sites for a proposed 827 homes in Thurston Map: Google Earth
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Councillors have shown their support for four developments which would see 689 new homes built in Thurston.

Following a seven-and-a-half-hour long meeting yesterday, members of Mid Suffolk District Council’s planning referrals committee voted ‘minded to approve’ three outline applications for 250 homes and land for a new school west of Ixworth Road, 200 homes and a school site in Norton Road and 175 homes to the south of Norton Road, and a full application for 64 homes in Meadow Lane.

They also voted ‘minded to refuse’ a full application for 138 homes to the west of Barton Road for ‘not representing good design, not preserving the character of the locality and not preserving good quality agricultural land’.

Members were unable to make definitive decisions because of gaps in the evidence before them, meaning they will be asked to make final judgements on all the applications once additional information on such things as highways issues and rail safety is available.

It is also not yet known if refusing one application would make the others unviable as each of the developers – Persimmon Homes, Pigeon Capital Management, Laurence Homes, Hopkins Homes and Bovis Homes – have already agreed to make substantial section 106 contributions, including £4.1 million towards the provision of a new school and £1.33 million towards road safety and connectivity improvements in the village.

Members heard of concerns over infrastructure, education and healthcare provision, as well as road safety and capacity issues at Fishwick Corner, Pokeridge Corner and the A143 Thurston Road junction, in particular.

Peter Robinson, chairman of Thurston Parish Council, told them he felt the provision of Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding would not be adequate to address the problems associated with such large growth while ward member Esther Jewson said she too was ‘very concerned at the collective potential harm to the community’.

Pigeon’s proposal for 200 homes and a three hectare primary and pre-school site proved most popular, however, receiving unanimous support from members, and praise for engaging with villagers and taking their views into consideration with housing density and property mix.

Debating the application, Cllr Jessica Fleming said: “I have a much better feeling for this site, actually. It offers a fairly generous amount of space compared to the other sites.”

“It’s the best one of the lot,” said Cllr Lavinia Hadingham, adding: “It’s got more one and two bedroom homes and is low density.”

The 175 home Hopkins application also received members’ unanimous support while Persimmon’s 250 homes proposal and Laurence’s 64 homes bid were favoured by nine votes to six and 14 votes to one respectively, with 11 to four voting against Bovis’ 138 homes proposal.

Mid Suffolk’s current shortage of a five-year plan for deliverable housing land means it has to consider all planning applications in the context of the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Of the five plans considered, Cllr Matthew Hicks, chairman of the planning referrals committee, said: “Each application was judged on its own merits and while the committee judged some to offer positive growth and much-needed new infrastructure, the application on Barton Road was considered to be unsuitable and unsustainable.”

The committee will be informing the Planning Inspectorate that it would have been ‘minded to approve’ the Hopkins application which is before it as a non-determination appeal – because Mid Suffolk did not deal with it within the statutory 13 week period – and, unless withdrawn by mutual consent, will be the subject of a four day public inquiry starting October 17.